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Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on January 11

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Skeptic
  • Birthday 08/18/1959

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  • Website URL
    https://www.ex-christian.net/blogs/blog/208-be-ready-always-to-give-an-answer/

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed once, but seeing how badly that was going to go I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    No

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  1. I call that my “wait... what?” moment.
  2. I think you're right. I'm getting closer and closer to just saying I'm not doing it anymore. I really don't think my believing son would cut me off, although it might be tense for awhile. And nobody else matters. He's literally the only one I'm worried about.
  3. Sorry, I've been neglecting Ex-C for awhile, it seems! It's a very long story. Yes, it's hard. I've explained it elsewhere in detail, but to make it short, my family has a very long history in the Non-Institutional Churches of Christ. My mother's parents were members. (My grandfather was a member, and he converted my grandmother who had been a 7th Day Adventist.) He was "out of duty" (church-of-christ-ese for people who haven't been going to church for awhile) but when he got a job in Port Arthur, TX during the depression, a CoC member he worked with got them to going to church again. When my mother married my dad, he was baptized into the CoC shortly thereafter. (His mother was an out-of-duty CoC'er but he had been going to the Baptist church.) And, as expected, I married a member of the NI-CoC, Her dad was a preacher. Consequently, we raised two sons in the CoC, and one of them ended up being a preacher. I was 52 years old when I realized (in church one morning) that it was all bullshit. The best way to make atheists, it is said, is to get Christians to read their Bibles. Of course, CoC'er spend their entire lives studying their Bibles, but there's a lot of spin involved in this Bible study. You're raised to know all of their proof-texts as well as you know the Bible itself. So when I deconverted I kept my mouth shut mostly. My wife figured out that I didn't believe, but I just mostly went along (although I quit participating as much as possible in the assembly -- quit leading prayers and leading singing, etc.). Then, my older son deconverted. I was ecstatic! I had someone I could talk to! But it wasn't going well for him, as his wife was pretty upset and trying to get him to do his "due diligence" (which is how we came to know that neither of us believed it any more). In my attempt to be supportive, I shared with him a blog I had been keeping and said he could share it with his wife. She wound up telling her parents (CoC members, of course) and her dad called the elders at our church. (I love her to death and we're good now, but it really caused a problem for me at the time! Embarrassed my wife, and I had to broach the subject with younger son (preacher) who was pretty mad at his brother at the time. That conversation didn't go too well, and ended up as a "don't ask -- don't tell" sort of an arrangement. So I still go to church in order to keep up appearances. But as time goes on, I'm less and less inclined to do that. Younger son even suggested that we switch to a mainline Church of Christ, which would be great if my wife could find one she likes to go to, because he wouldn't know anyone there and I would be freer to just drift away. He's been questioning the dogma of the NI-CoC lately, so I think he wouldn't mind if we went to some other denomination, but then there's my wife's sister to think about, and my wife is really afraid to leave the tribe. Stinks. With the pandemic, though, I'm at the point where I'm pretty sure I'm going to refuse to go back to the congregation we've been going to, at the very least. Too many libertarians there. They refuse to wear masks. The elders finally, last week, sent out an email saying they were going to reserve one section of the auditorium for people who wanted to wear masks. Funny thing is that there were exactly the same number there this Sunday as the Sunday before (155). It didn't change a thing! That building becomes uncomfortable at around 190, and for the last year there have been 200-250 in attendance on Sunday mornings, so I was panicky when I was there already. There are already too many people there. They can't block off every other row, and they really can't spread out enough on the rows. And they're trying to get people to go back? My wife takes a monthly Cimzia shot for her RA, which is an immuno-suppressant, so we're among the people who have no business being in crowds. Anyway, I don't really have a good excuse to keep going, but I guess I'm just gutless. I mainly don't want to risk being cut off by my preacher son. But he hasn't completely cut our other son, so maybe I don't have anything to worry about. So much for making it short!
  4. Yes and no. I feel a lot better because the world makes so much more sense. I feel better because I’m better able to see how people really are and to empathize with them. But I live in a world that’s still obsessed with Christianity, where my wife is terrified that people might find out I’m a non-believer, where I have to have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship with one of my adult children, and that keeps me coming back here and reading Patheos Nonreligious all of the time. If I were okay, I wouldn’t bother with those things. The conflict in my mind over having to (minimally) pretend is stressful. These last 12-or-so weeks of not having to be at church due to the pandemic have been great!
  5. Lerk

    Hell

    I’m way late to this conversation... haven’t been on the site at all lately. I really think that if my wife weren’t so afraid of Hell she might have deconverted right along with me 8 years ago, or 3 years ago when I was outed and ended up agreeing to an online study with a preacher. The preacher’s answers to my questions were inadequate, and she could see that. It really scared her that she could see that there wasn’t a good reason to believe! Belief in Hell kept her in, and led her to come up with mental tricks to re-convince herself about the Bible. Fortunately for me, I never had that problem. I believed in Heaven and Hell because the New Testament talked about them. (But the OT doesn’t! That’s why the Sadducees didn’t believe in them.) It was just mental assent, though — I never imagined what it would be like. I never looked forward to Heaven even though I believed I would go there. I don’t get excited about going to real places, either! I might be a happier person if I looked forward to doing this or that, going here or there — I don’t know. But at least being this was made deconvert8ng easy.
  6. Hi, AC! Welcome aboard. Looking forward to getting to know you.
  7. Lerk

    My Story

    And he's not even talking about the International Churches of Christ. The ICoC came out of what was called the Boston Movement, and people in "normal" Churches of Christ considered the Boston Movement to be a cult.
  8. I did not, but even when I was a believer the afterlife idea was more "mental assent" than "vividly imagined" to me. I never thought about seeing my grandparents again. I never imagined what Heaven might be like, or worried about winding up in Hell. I definitely believed those places were real, but I guess I'm not the type of person who can really put my mind in a state where places I'm not at seem real. Even life as I'm passing through it seems more like the pages of a book sometimes. (Of course, if you have a vivid imagination, that statement doesn't mean to you what it does to me!) So I was fortunate in that I never felt any loss. And a lot of Christians are terrified that they'll wind up in Hell because they weren't good enough, so I'm glad I never had that fear, either.
  9. Makes perfect sense. Welcome aboard!
  10. I second this. Remember when Jesus got the Pharisees and Sadducees to arguing by bringing up life after death? (It's in Acts 23.) The Sadducees didn't believe that people could go to Heaven because it was unscriptural. By extension, there being no mention of it in the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament), they didn't believe in Hell at all. Somewhere along the way, probably when the Persians ruled the world, the common Jewish people picked up the idea of eternal reward and punishment, so most people in New Testament times just assumed it to be real. Knowing that it was just a belief that the Jews picked up from another nation makes it a lot easier to ignore.
  11. It's not impossible that there are such things as ghosts/spirits/angels/demons/gods/minds-without-brains, but it's highly unlikely. But this I know: Even if there are such things as gods, the Bible doesn't describe a real one / real ones. The Bible starts off with "The Most High" and his sons creating the Universe in 6 days. At some point, those sons mate with human women and produce a race of giants called the Nephilim. At a later point, those hybrids would necessarily die because the Most High causes a flood that drowns all but 8 people. Later, one of the sons who happens to be good, Jehovah, calls Abraham so that he can make a nation of his descendants. When the nation emerges from captivity in Egypt, Moses sings a song explaining how the Most High divided up the people of the world into nations, one nation for each of his sons, and Jehovah (aka "The LORD") gets the descendants of Jacob as his inheritance. The LORD is said to be much better at leading his people than the other gods, who are by implication his brothers. In Psalm 82 we see either the Most High or Jehovah pronouncing that the other gods are going to lose their divinity and will eventually die. NO CHRISTIAN THAT I'M AWARE OF BELIEVES ANY OF THIS, yet it's exactly what the Bible says. There's just flat no reason to think that any of the Bible is anything other than myths and legends. Christians don't believe a bunch of it because it's simply unbelievable. I bet you never heard in church that the Most High is Jehovah's father -- normal Christian theology says that they're the same god -- normal Christian theology denies what the Bible says about the gods. So, no, I really don't believe or even think it's possible that Jehovah is real. Edit: I didn't read the entire thread before posting. I see now that you're not sure whether you believe or not. My conclusion is basically, if there are such things as gods, they clearly don't care whether we know about them or not. But as far as I can tell, every god that people believe in is the product of speculation about what a god would be like if there were such things as gods. Regarding morality, it would necessarily have evolved or the human species would not have survived. Other animals have morals, as well, even though they can't write them down. I highly recommend the book "What it Means to be Moral" by Phil Zuckerman
  12. Christianity: Declaring that hate is love and cruelty is kindness since 33CE.

    1. Aqualung

      Aqualung

      Also War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

  13. Long story. It boils down to being in a "don't ask -- don't tell" situation with one son. Maybe not for too much longer.
  14. This was me! It actually started in church one morning when I realized that nobody in the building believed what Genesis 3 said. (Hint: It's an ordinary snake!) I knew, like you, that liberal Christianity didn't treat the fables as facts, but also like you, I couldn't find anything that made me think I should believe anything in the New Testament. If the Bible starts out as myths, transitions to legends, and then to embellished history, at what point am I supposed to start believing that the magic is real? That was 8 years ago. I'm 60 years old now. Unfortunately, I'm still going to church and keeping my mouth mostly shut. But I'm going less and less often, and hoping to see a way to quit altogether.
  15. Welcome aboard! Sharing an account is an interesting concept. I'm looking forward to your posts.
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